The best UFC fights that never were, including Khabib Nurmagomedov-Tony Ferguson

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All over the heritage of combat sports activities there have been have to-see, are not able to-pass up fights that have been on the precipice of happening, but for one reason or a different by no means came to fruition. The COVID-19 pandemic has improved the quantity of shut calls and previous-minute cancellations greatly in excess of the previous two years, along with the injuries and failures to make specials that have lengthy been an unlucky section of boxing and MMA alike.

Previous UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm was scheduled to battle this weekend in a featherweight matchup in opposition to Norma Dumont at UFC Fight Evening in Las Vegas. Regretably, Holm endured an injury and was forced to withdraw.

With Holly Holm compelled to fall out due to personal injury, Aspen Ladd actions up to 145 pounds on late recognize to just take on Norma Dumont in Saturday’s main celebration.

Ladd’s Oct. 2 bantamweight bout from Macy Chiasson was canceled after Ladd was shaky at the weigh-in. Dumont is in research of her 3rd straight get.

UFC Battle Evening: Ladd vs. Dumont
Saturday, Oct. 16, UFC Apex, Las Vegas
• Most important card: 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+
• Prelims: 4 p.m. ET on ESPN+

Subscribe to ESPN+ to get distinctive live UFC activities, weigh-ins and additional Dana White’s Contender Series and far more distinctive MMA content material.

Holm, 39, is one of, if not the most achieved athlete in female battle sports activities, and record will remember her vocation for considerably, a lot a lot more than one particular remarkable evening versus Ronda Rousey back in 2015. But at the same time, that efficiency towards a previously unbeatable foe will always serve as just one of Holm’s prime profession highlights.

As we method the 6-year anniversary of Holm’s upset around Rousey on Nov. 14, we question, “What if?” What if Holm and Rousey had fought a 2nd time?

That’s what the UFC wished. The UFC wanted Holm to hold out for Rousey to fight once more, and to operate that again right away. Holm elected not to hold out and shed her belt to Miesha Tate in her first tried defense. Rousey finally did return in 2016, misplaced to Amanda Nunes, then retired, and a potential rematch with Holm disappeared permanently.

It truly is a person of all those fights that is enjoyable to take into consideration. Debate. Question the “What ifs.” So what other fights are like that in UFC historical past? What do we would like could have transpired, that under no circumstances did? Everyone’s record is different, I am certain, but below are my leading 5.

In 5 tries to e-book this battle, the closest we got to observing Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson was one particular working day absent, in March 2017 at UFC 209. Nurmagomedov was hospitalized prior to weigh-ins just after his ultimate cutdown went awry. AP Image/John Locher

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson

Don’t even go through this matchup aloud. Who is familiar with what misfortune might befall you.

Five times the UFC tried using to phase this combat. 5 various periods. This will endlessly go down as the most cursed struggle in UFC record. And the reality Ferguson has experienced a extremely down 12 months given that the fifth endeavor at booking this combat fell via will not make me come to feel any better about lacking it.

Yeah, maybe Nurmagomedov would have made it look straightforward versus Ferguson, as he did towards each and every other light-weight. But perhaps not. And both way, Ferguson, far more than any person, gained his opportunity to test Nurmagomedov, and I experience bad that he was robbed of that.

The sport was robbed of Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson, but more importantly, Ferguson was robbed of Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson — and that will always be regrettable.



5 decades afterwards, relive the buildup and knockout that helped propel Conor McGregor to superstardom at UFC 194.

2. Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo 2

These two are still lively, but I feel assured stating this rematch will hardly ever occur. Each have moved on so appreciably from the other. McGregor is preventing at lightweight or welterweight. Aldo is trying to chase a championship two fat courses down at bantamweight. There is no lousy blood left more than from 2015, when they fought for Aldo’s featherweight title.

And although it really is sort of heartwarming to see these two help just about every other, the combat fan in me can not aid but want it was the specific reverse. I variety of would like Aldo was obsessed with having even with McGregor. I sort of would like he harbored this lengthy-standing resentment towards McGregor, for everything that was claimed foremost up to that combat and for everything McGregor took from him in that KO victory.

Before there was Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor, or Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor, there was Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor. That was just one of the most hyped fights in the heritage of the UFC, and it lasted 13 damn seconds. I want we could have noticed it once again.

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In this excerpt from Unlocking Victory on ESPN+, Dominick Cruz and Gilbert Melendez crack down Amanda Nunes’ knockout of Cris Cyborg.

3. Amanda Nunes vs. Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino 2

A lot like Aldo vs. McGregor, this fight just went so fast. All the credit history in the entire world to Nunes. She knocked out Justino in just 51 seconds in 2018, and she did so convincingly — like, just ran straight by means of a woman who was regarded 1 of the most feared figures in the activity. It was a remarkable overall performance by Nunes.

But it undoubtedly remaining us — or me, at the very least — seeking to know how/if Justino would bounce back again. We’re talking about one particular of the most dominant athletes in MMA record acquiring demolished in one particular of the greatest fights of her job in fewer than just one minute. That was Justino’s only decline in the span of 13 yrs. I needed to see how she’d return in an fast rematch from Nunes.

Sad to say, even nevertheless these two are also continue to energetic, we will most very likely hardly ever see it. Justino left the UFC immediately after this title fight against Nunes, and actually, as I mentioned at the time, it was probably for the finest for the men and women specifically concerned. The connection amongst the UFC and Justino experienced grown harmful. Nonetheless, the fight admirer in me wonders what intrigue would have arrive to move in this rematch.

Dana White went to good lengths to try to make Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko occur, but Emelianenko, the famous heavyweight, in the long run never fought in the UFC. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

4. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar

This is UFC president Dana White’s white whale. The just one struggle in all his a long time as a promoter he badly wished to make, and never could.

And it truly would have been a perfect storm. Two full opposites in conditions of community persona. Emelianenko hardly talked. Hardly seemed awake, frankly, all through most media engagements. But he was extensively renowned as the best heavyweight of all time, and maybe the best MMA fighter of all time, time period. Lesnar was … Lesnar. WWE star turned UFC heavyweight champion.

As the story goes, White basically flew to an island off of Venezuela to meet up with with Emelianenko in individual in 2009, with the hope of scheduling Emelianenko vs. Lesnar at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The two sides could never ever strike a offer, and Emelianenko by no means fought when in the UFC.

I personally have this ranked at No. 4, but just one can see why it’s the one particular that obtained absent for White. A heavyweight megafight at an 80,000-seat soccer stadium in Texas? What a scene that would have been.

Latest Corridor of Fame inductee Georges St-Pierre received UFC championships in two distinct divisions, but a very long-mentioned superfight versus fellow UFC legend Anderson Silva ultimately in no way arrived to fruition. Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

5. Anderson Silva vs. Georges St-Pierre

This is the evident respond to. The continuously teased superfight that under no circumstances arrived collectively, even though Silva and St-Pierre each seemed open to it at numerous stages as they dominated their respective fat classes. Two of the sport’s all-time greats. Their greatness transpired at the same time. They ought to have fought.

Yes, and no. The a person issue that actually did never ever make feeling about this matchup was the measurement. St-Pierre wasn’t even a big welterweight, and we observed in 2017 he struggled to sustain the body weight he felt was vital to compete as a middleweight at 185 lbs in opposition to Michael Bisping. Silva was large in comparison, a man who could comfortably combat at 205 kilos in the course of his key.

So, in a single quite authentic, really critical aspect, this fight by no means designed feeling at all. But … what would have transpired? You should not inform me St-Pierre wouldn’t have experienced a shot. With his combating IQ and MMA wrestling skill, no a person can tell me St-Pierre was not at least capable of profitable that combat. And if he would have really gone up and completed it, I you should not consider we’d at any time have a discussion about the finest fighter of all time.